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Date Posted: 20:21:59 09/24/03 Wed
Author: Jerry Basow
Subject: "What is a Haunting", A Brief synopsis?
What is a Haunting?
There are many "theories" surrounding the causes of the haunt phenomena. However, I will emphatically state, “there are truly no experts in this field”, at least so far as when it comes to explaining "why" a haunt is taking place. The world of haunt research is one of sheer speculation, and will remain so until such a time those definitive answers are found, answers which are consistently supported by scientific analysis. Fortunately however, throughout the years of haunt research, some tentative explanations answers have begun to surface.
To understand a “haunt”, it is important to understand the different categories into which this phenomenon falls. I will attempt to offer a brief synopsis of possible explanations for the events specific to each category. These explanations come from many different paradigms of inquiry. Clearly, there are differing opinions on how to categorize haunt phenomena (for the purpose of this article I have used a generic listing), and as you will see, differing explanations as to a cause.
Category 1 Poltergeist- translated, this literally means "knocking ghost". Common to this type of haunt is the unexplained movement of objects, unexplainable sounds, and related phenomena. While rarely seen, this type of presence makes itself known by physically interacting with objects within its domain. The object may be small as a house key, or as large as a heavy piece of furniture. People are sometimes touched, and often describe their experience to be a tap on the shoulder, removal of bed covers, a slight tug of the hair, etc. In some cases, there is a forceful strike, or some other apparent desire to cause injury. However, the latter is a relatively uncommon occurrence. From the context of a discarnate soul, a poltergeist is thought to be a playful ghost or mischievous spirit, a spirit motivated by a desire to draw attention to itself, or in the worst case scenario, to torment the living. From a parapsychologist (the field of science which focus is to study paranormal events), a poltergeist event it not otherworldly at all. In fact, to the mainstream parapsychologist, this phenomenon is the result of RSPK or recurrent spontaneous psychokenesis. In simple terms, this translates to the unintentional repeated movement of objects with the mind. Taking this one step further, these scientists point to the correlation between the RSPK phenomena, and the presence of an adolescent (normally a female) going through the puberty stage. The thinking is that certain hormonal changes which take place during this phase of development, cause neurochemical changes in the brain, which in turn, activate an uncharted area of the brain capable of producing kinesis. Though some interesting statistical data has been compiled to cause one to consider this particular perspective, the hypothesis falls far short of explaining many of the reported poltergeist haunts, namely, those poltergeist events take place outside of the presence of anyone of the target age, or for that matter, anyone at all. For example, one of the few cases in which poltergeist activity had been caught on film, involved events in an empty home located in Van Nuys California. Using various filming, and environmental measuring techniques, a group of paranormal researchers led by Christopher Chicon, a noted parapsychologist, captured on film the movement of a roll of tape, the closing of a door, and the repeated opening and closing of kitchen cabinets and drawers. In addition, through the use of microwave imaging, this group was able to capture a shadow moving along a wall, highly unusual during a poltergeist event. All in all, this was one of the overall most impressive film clips I have seen. The quality of the filming was excellent, and the reputation of the researchers would lead one to believe that the evidence was credible. In addition, strange events were collaborated by numerous tenants of the home. These persons reported strange activity ranging from uneasy feelings, behavioral change, movement of objects, physical manifestations of the entity, abusive physical contact, etc. Most who stayed in the home (a rental property) stayed no longer than a couple of months. But if one were to dismiss R.S.P.K. for failing to explain how such events could take place outside of a person’s presence, what other explanation might be offered? This alternative explanation might be found in the "Hutchison Effect". The “Hutchison Effect” refers to poltergeist like happenings which are created by the interaction of various natural energy fields in a specific area. While experimenting with devices created by Tesla (the Tesla Coil), and Van De Graff (the Van De Graff Apparatus), etc., a Canadian scientist, Richard Hutchison, accidentally created poltergeist like phenomena in a controlled laboratory environment (it should be noted that the laboratory was actually in his home). The experiments dealt with the introduction into the environment of various electromagnetic properties. Through repeated experiments, Hutchison was able to create events in which items levitated on their own, dissimilar articles (such as wood and metal) melded together, spontaneous fires started, etc.
Category 2 Residual Apparitions - An apparition is just that, an apparition. This is what people usually refer to when they claim to have "seen a ghost". Residual apparitions never interact within a "real time" environment, and seem totally unaware of their current circumstances. In essence, the residual apparition is like a photograph, or repeating snippet of film, recorded from some point in the past. The residual apparition is totally independent and unaffected by that which takes place around it. The most common line of thought is within the “non-scientific” community, is that these souls are trapped, tied to the earth for a variety of reasons. For example, there is a home in New England in which a female apparition is often spotted looking out of a bedroom window toward the ocean. The story is that she is the wife of a fisherman who had been lost in a storm. This woman continues to watch for her husbands return, many years after her death. This kind of strong emotional tie is often used to explain why the individual is not able to "cross over" to the next existence. Another explanation that has been offered, is the idea that buildings themselves somehow hold in these images and emotions, a simple tape recording of the numerous events which had taken place within its walls. In this way, the "ghost" is not actually there, it is a residue which has been imprinted on the environment. The main stream scientific view is that these images are some form of hallucination, hallucinations brought about for various reasons. Reasons such as a structures proximity to power lines, which in turn leads to neural events such as "temporal lobe microsiezures". The thinking is that these microseizures taking place in the temporal lobe of the brain (the area responsible for the mediation and storage of certain types of memory), through complex integration with the visual cortex (the area of the brain responsible for the mediation of visual stimuli), cause a hallucination to result. Neurochemical changes related to depression or extreme anxiety, such as after a major life event, are also though to be a cause for such hallucinations. Researchers points to hallucinatory events in which a person is visited by a lost love one shortly after their passing. They attribute this to drastic changes in neurotransmitter balances following this extreme psychological trauma. As is often the case with hard line science, the explanation(s) offered are wanting in many areas. For example, temporal lobe seizures, or changes in neurotransmission, may explain why an "individual" might see a ghost, but is certainly doesn't explain how several people see and describe the same entity at the same time, or how several people would report the same apparition, though the sightings might have taken place years apart. Lacking a better explanation, one may cite the concept of "mass hallucinations". However, so far as it concerns these phenomena, this is a label used instead of simply stating that science has no idea, and in my opinion, would never be used by any scientist worth his/her salt.
Category 3 Active Apparitions - This in essence, is an apparition that does seem to be aware of its surroundings, and does, at least on some level, interact within that environment, including those people within that proximity. Some believe that the apparition "imprints" itself on the psyche of an intended person. In this way the intended target experiences the apparition, yet those around him/her may not be aware of its presence. This is truly a rare phenomenon, and those that have had such an experience, for the most part, are few and far between. However rare, there is enough evidence to declare this type of phenomena as credible. The communicative abilities of these "spirits" or "ghost", more often than not appear to come in fragments which tend to last only a few moments at a time. From a general paranormal view, this phenomenon represents a discarnate soul. A person who has passed, and whom, for one reason or another, has been trapped within, or has chosen to return, to the world of the living. Some believe that these "lost souls" have returned to satisfy unresolved issues, while others theorize that these people simply don't realize that they are gone. Psychics seem to be divided, though they tend to favor the latter explanation. Hard line scientist would offer the same explanation as they would for residual apparitions. For example, Dr. M.A. Persinger, a noted neuroscientist, points to changes in the brain's melatonin levels following the death of a loved one. According to the doctor, these changes can explain why many people report nighttime (a time when melatonin levels decline naturally) visitations from loved ones shortly after their passing. Interestingly, Dr. Persinger does state that the effect might be functioning in the opposite direction. In other words, it might be the presence of the discarnate person which causes the additional decline in brain melatonin levels, or that it is the decline in melatonin levels which make one more receptive, or more aware of a visitation.
Category 4 Demonic Possession - This is the rarest of all phenomena. In fact, there are probable only a hand full of authentic cases known to modern man. When I speak of demonic possession, I refer to the criteria used by the Catholic Church. This is not to say that I am of the Catholic faith, it is just that these are the people who have dealt with this phenomena over the ages. According to this religious paradigm, only people, not places, may be possessed. It should be clearly understood that this phenomena has nothing to do with discarnate souls, they are demons. Demons are not, and have never been, persons. Prior to declaring a person as possessed one must have all forms of mental illness professionally dismissed. Tourett's syndrome, dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), and certain forms of schizophrenia, may mimic some of the effects of demonic possession. However, no known psychological illness, or combination of illnesses, can explain a true possession event. A few of the criteria for actual demonic possession are as follows .The person will speak in a tongue that he or she should not know. For example, a person, born and raised in the United States, begins to speak fluid Latin, without having ever been exposed to that language. This same person seems to know information that he or she should not know. For example, the person accurately states an event which will occur hours or days prior to that event taking place (precognition). Other forms of mental telepathy might also be present Additionally, telekinetic events will center around this individual . This person will demonstrate uncommon or "superhuman" strength, etc. These are some of the primary criteria for a declaration of demonic possession. As you can see, the guidelines on which such a declaration is made are quite stringent. If you suspect demonic possession, and all other explanations have been ruled out (i.e., mental illness), I suggest you contact someone from your particular faith, since this type of event goes far beyond the scope of normal paranormal investigation, and dwelling into such ventures as an "amateur exorcist" can be quite dangerous.
I will conclude with a personal observation. Perhaps what we are seeing is a type of “diathesis stress” model. In psychology, diathesis stress refers to an individual’s predisposition toward certain mental disease. It could be that certain people, and places, are more susceptible to experiencing a haunt phenomena than others. Using this line of thinking, it is possible that certain persons, or areas, present a more fertile ground for hunt phenomena to occur. The fact that we can not always scientifically replicate these events may simply be due to a general lack of understanding of the event itself. I have been involved in paranormal research for many years. For the most part, the phenomena that I have personally witnessed during investigations continue to defy logic. As sure as it seems that science has offered a plausible explanation, some component of the phenomena renders the explanation as implausible.
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